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Innovative Marine Aquariums
  • mmike1992

    Christopher Marks

    Congratulations to mmike1992 for being selected for our September Reef Profile! His 25 gallon nano reef is a brilliantly crafted custom shallow reef aquarium. Below he has written a profile of his aquarium's progress over the past year and a half, and shares his experiences in the hobby. Check it out and share your comments and questions in mmike1992's featured reef profile thread.


    Tank Specs

    Display: 22" x 19" x 14" Custom built 25 gallon glass aquarium
    Sump: Custom acrylic with Maxi-Jet 1800 Utility Pump return
    Lighting: 150w HQI 20K Radium bulb w/ LumenMax reflector, PFO ballast, 12 Cree Royal Blue LEDs in a DIY enclosure
    Filtration: Euro-Reef RS80 protein skimmer
    Equipment: 2 50w Ebo Jager heaters, JBJ 1/15 chiller, Tunze Osmolater top-off, Innovative Aquatics doser
    Circulation: VorTech MP20 propeller pump


    Established April 2008

    Maintenance Routine

    • Weekly 3 gallon partial water change
    • Clean glass weekly
    • Feed Ocean Nutrition's flakes and pellets once a day
    • Feed Reef Nutrition's Oyster-Feast twice a week


    • 2 black percula clowns
    • 1 purple firefish
    • 1 yellow clown goby
    • 1 tailspot blenny


    I acquired all of my coral as frags from my local club, Manhattan Reefs. I currently have a mix of various zoanthids, some montiporas, acroporas, and a couple LPS corals.


    A couple of scarlet hermit crabs, cerith and nassarius snails.


    The aquarium was started in April of 2008 after transferring the contents of my 12 gallon CAD Lights aquarium to this one. I guess I am what you would call a lurker, I pick through forum posts until I see something I like, then I try it out. I wanted the tank to look as natural as possible from the top and sides, so I took the idea of a foam rock wall. I built one in October 2008 to fit the tank's back wall, disguising the corner overflow and helping to conceal the MP20 pump. It was fairly easy to do and gave me a lot of options for coral placement. The tank's lighting was initially just a single 150w HQI metal halide pendant, but in July 2009 I added supplemental actinic lighting with 12 Cree royal blue LEDs with 80 degree reflectors in a DIY enclosure.


    My inspiration has to come from a love of the sea. I think if you have that, it's the driving force behind any reef tank.


    I've been plagued with a bubble algae outbreak that I did not nip in the bud in the early stages.

    Words Of Wisdom

    • If you are just starting out research, research, research!
    • Do not buy a piece of equipment without reading a bunch of reviews first, or you will waste time and resources on inferior products.
    • Keep your hands out of the tank.
    • Don't give up on a coral because it turns brown or loses color. Stick with it, one of my favorite things is to see a coral come back from the grave.
    • Do not get sucked into coral fads.


    I would like to thank Christopher Marks for nominating my tank, it means a lot at this point! I could never picture myself without a reef aquarium. Through the years I have constantly had to downsize, but whether you have 500 gallons or 5 gallons, you make the best of it!


    Thanks again,


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    Recommended Comments

    Major Congrats, it's well-deserved!!!

    The first time I saw your tank I was majorly discouraged due to problems I'd been having with my own tank, and I just sat there with my mouth open saying, "Now THIS is what a Nano Reef is supposed to look like!!!"

    Your tank reminded me of what I love about this hobby, of what it can look like when things go right.

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